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Celebrating the Hol-LAO-days!

Happy holidays, Laosters!

The snow is falling and my kids are counting down the days until winter break. It’s getting mighty festive around here! This time of year is always a big deal for my husband and I. We both come from years of traditions that keep evolving as our kids get older. Coming from a Canadian family, his celebrations are pretty traditional. But we Lao do things a bit differently. So like many multicultural families, we’ve created our own unique celebrations. I asked how Lao North Americans have celebrated the holidays over the years. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Trimming the tree

In addition to ribbon, figurines, and ball ornaments, you might find a mini thip khao or two adorning a Lao Christmas tree.

  • Santa, who?

The Big Guy always missed Lao houses when we were growing up. No problem, Mae and Pa put the gifts under the tree. With my own kids, Santa brings one small gift, but Mama and Daddy takes care of the rest!

  • Christmas movies and a snack

Starting after American Thanksgiving, we watch a Christmas movie with the kids every weekend. We all cozy up in the living room with standard movie snacks: popcorn, hot chocolate, sticky rice, and Lao jerky (my kids call it Lao Bacon).

  • Getting crafty

Sure, decorating cookies is fun. But have you ever tried making snowmen out of tapioca dumplings or glutinous rice balls?

  • Winter fun and classic comfort food

Tobogganing, building snowmen, and snow ball fights. Then coming inside to warm up with a nice bowl of khao piek sen. That’s the life.

  • Karaoke

Because it’s not a Lao party without it. Amirite?

  • Christmas dinner

Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and stuffing… along with naem khao, khua mee, and a big pot of khao poon.

  • Opening Presents the Night Before

My siblings, cousins, and I exchange gifts after dinner on Christmas Eve. Santa’s not coming, so why wait?

  • Cash gifts from the Aunties and Uncles

    If you’re 10 or over, nothing says I love you like an envelope full of cash.

  • Facetiming the absent relatives in Laos

    “Here’s all the food and drink you’re missing out on! Ma der, ma der!”

How are you celebrating this season? Let us know!


–Donna Luangmany,

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